* You could burn a bridge if you are not careful. It is a small world after all in certain domains.
* Open yourself back to criticism, person starts defending themselves, worse they go on twitter about it.
* You help them too much so now they compete better with someone you invested with. Telling someone they screwed up would be giving them an edge. Sometimes investors might not want that. It is better to provide dismissive or false feedback ("you guys are awesome, it is me not you, I just don't have time, keep working hard on this"). Basically give them false feedback so they don't realize how badly they are fucking up.
* It creates a negative social vibe. Some people are just averse to negative public display of emotions. It rattles their nerves too much, regardless of how it starts or who causes it.
* You get to feel better (this is the most important but people forget). You are a teacher giving feedback to an inexperienced person. It makes you feel good and smart. This is an egotistical reason to do it.
* You like the person so you want to help them. Maybe you hope they accept the feedback, fix the issues and you come back to you. Note this involves believing in them to start with. This is an altruistic reason.
In general the downsides are more risky than the upsides. So people will choose not to give negative feedback.
In Japanese, "We will consider it" or "kentou shimasu" (検討します) literally means to investigate and attack from its Chinese roots and is a way to signal distance.
If you are in early stage talks and if they are serious you will get a request to sign an NDA or some form of binding contract.
That one is the classic "weak leader" no. I had this happen to me while I was still in college. Where I went everyone had specific rules for each class, where the seniors had the most leniency, but were still not given real freedoms.
As part of a negotiations class, myself and three others had to create a topic and then negotiate a deal with someone. I chose to negotiate more freedoms for the seniors with one of our top officials. We did a ton of background research on why and how and implications etc... We gave our pitch, answered lots of "tough" questions and afterwards asked "So are you willing to make the change?"
The response was a fantastic display of political wriggling but ended up with basically this response: "I think this is great you guys, but here is what I need you to do so we can make this happen. I need a legal review from 4 different legal disciplines, then I need to see a study of expected outcome effectiveness for your proposal, then you will need to do a poll of the student body to see if they would accept it. Only then, will we be able to make a truly INFORMED decision."
I saw the NO from a mile off that day, so I said thank you, got my A in the class (Despite not getting to any BATNA) and went on with my life having seen what a disguised NO really looks like. I am confident even if I had done all that work the answer would have still been no, I just would have put hundreds of hours into getting a firmer no.
Lots of people find it easy to be "nice" to others when there is nothing on the line - no money, no reputation, nothing at risk. Why say something critical and create bad feelings when you gain nothing by it? Surveys and market research get skewed for this reason.
You always get more honest and accurate feedback when you actually "ask for the sale". It doesn't even have to be a literal "sale", it could be a change in a policy, as in the story above.
You may be mistaking BATNA with ZOPA (zone of potential agreement). There wasn't any ZOPA here apparently.
The CFO at the company I work for tried to jerk me around by saying they wanted to put off bringing me on permanent, a $400 a week difference, for months. The company's BATNA in this situation was even worse than the status quo. It took them four months to find me and I've been doing great. I made some token efforts at negotiating, then started playing hardball by calling the staffing agency and threatening to leave. They folded practically instantly.
So if you can project your ability to calmly receive frank feedback, others may be more likely to tell you what they really think.
Once you recognize that most investors will be capable of offering little in the way of meaningful (read: specific) feedback, it isn't hard to identify the source of the most valuable feedback: target customers.
The good news: more often than not, it's fairly easy to locate potential customers who will be eager to look at what you have and give you an ear-full of honest, informed feedback at no cost. Some might even go on to become your first customers, but even if none do, I can guarantee you that you won't walk away from 52 meetings with potential customers wanting for real feedback.
* Can you get 52 VC meetings in the valley, cold? Is that possible without being part of an accelerator, or knowing influential people?
* If your personal network doesn't flower into a bunch of meetings, then where do you get more?
* Is it events and meetups, cold emails, making noise online, some combination of these?
The best intros come from entrepreneurs that recommend a startup to their own investors. It's much easier to get meetings with entrepreneurs, especially if you approach the non-yet-famous ones. Often, just asking for advice works.
It's harder if you don't live in a startup hub, because you'll meet fewer fellow entrepreneurs socially.
Would you rather get 52 meetings with VC's or 52 meetings with potential customers who are willing to tell you their pains, frustrations and problems?
It's a shame too, because I'm sure there's a lot of startups that could have used some honesty from the people around them early on to modify and pivot and consequently not fail.
Challenging an entrepreneur on the validity of an idea is actually a form of nice feedback. It seems like it's saying, "I believe in you but I have found some concrete roadblock that will cause this to fail." That's almost always bullshit, because startups change forms throughout their life, shifting strategies and tactics to avoid such roadblocks.
Really, that feedback is saying "I don't think you have what it takes to get around roadblocks."
Guess what happened?
They became defensive, trying to explain to me why my feedback was wrong. One person stopped discussing their project with me entirely, and some others just avoided me after that.
Why go through all that when you can just tell them their baby is beautiful, give them some token softball criticism that they can say they're already addressing and move on with your life?
You simply need to become more formidable.
I think VCs may be good at judging confidence, but a wide array of stereotypes and predispositions come to mind when picking whether someone with no track record will make it. I really don't get the feeling that VCs in general are good at picking the formidable founders, and in the end, really just place bets on the guys who someone else already bet on. I think YC does a great job of picking founders who have the potential to be formidable and allowing them to raise after the program.
The sentence you are responding to is the whole point of the article. VCs don't have to be good at picking formidable founders. (I don't know whether they are or aren't.) They just have to believe that they are good at it - and they do.
* Track record?
* Strong verbal presentation? (Confidence, ex-football lineman, what?)
* What else??
* Something else?
I've had a mixed bag of reactions from this. Just as some can figure out that I don't think they are funny, there will be others that immediately get defensive: "what? you want me to be funnier? are you saying I am not funny?" - they may not verbalize this, but you see those thoughts going through their mind.
This brings us to the big flip side to feedforward: it doesn't inherently answer why. I know that I learn most when people can pinpoint a specific issue in past and make me aware of the issue. Often, once you've convinced me of the issue, I'll either know the fix or will ask you for one. But to simply give me the fix("hey! use more humor!") is less helpful to me if I am unaware or not fully convinced that I am not funny.
Edit: Upon more careful reading, I see that your feedforward is premised upon you asking for feedback about yourself where as my post comes from the angle of unsolicited feedback. Two different beasts! My bad.